A look back at 2013

Good Evening Keys Fans!

And happy Tuesday! Tonight we’ll hear some of the best voices in the area, as judges from Key103 and members of the Frederick Keys Staff listen to individuals who would like to sing our nation’s anthem at a game this year. The performances run from 5-8 p.m. at FSK Mall, so if you’re in the area, swing on by. As for those trying out, break a leg!

On the Orioles front, manager Buck Showalter announced that Chris Tillman will be  the opening day starter. He’ll toe the bump on March 31 when the team hosts the Red Sox. Not surprisingly, Ubaldo Jimenez will serve as the O’s No. 2 man.

Down on the farm, MASN’s Steve Melewski put out a full report on Monday’s minor league action in the Grapefruit League. Frederick lost 7-0 in it’s game on St. Patty’s Day, but Matt Hobgood and Mychal Givens each pitched well. Givens is definitely a candidate to spend time in the Frederick bullpen this season. Rated the organization’s #23 prospect according to Baseball America, the righty began his career as a shortstop before switching to the mound last season. Over 28 games, he went 2-3 with a 4.22 ERA.

One final note on Givens: if he were to be assigned to Frederick, it would not be his first time in a Keys uniform. He played in one game with the Keys in September 2010, going 2-for-4 with an RBI and two runs scored.

courtesy: Orioles-nation.com

courtesy: Orioles-nation.com

We’ll resume Guess Your Keys tommorrow afternoon, but tonight we wanted to take a step back and review the 2013 season. Although the team struggled at times, many players took a step forward in their careers. Here is a full look-back:

Frederick ended the first-half one game under .500, but second half struggles saw the Keys finish in last place for the second straight season. The 2011 Carolina League champs went 34-35 in the first half and a league-worst 27-43 in the second stanza to finish a combined 61-78 on the year. In the mix for a playoff spot at the end of May, the Keys stumbled down the backstretch of the first half, dropping seven of their final eight games heading into the All-Star Break. Struggles resumed in the second half, as the team was plagued by promotions and injuries. As a result, the Keys finished in the bottom-third in most offensive and pitching categories. Under the guidance of first-year manager Luis Pujols, Frederick hopes to turn the page in 2014, and advance to postseason play for the 11th time in franchise history.

KEYS OFFENSE

As a team, the Keys finished last in the Carolina League in hitting, batting .245 collectively. However, the club knew a thing or two about hitting the longball. In 2013, the Keys clubbed 109 dingers,      second-most in the CL. More than 60% of those came at Harry Grove Stadium (69), as the team made healthy use of the ballpark’s friendly dimensions. Individually, the Keys were paced by Carolina League batting champion Michael Ohlman. Over 100 games, the power-hitting catcher hit .313, paced the Keys in slugging percentage (.524) and closed third overall in on-base percentage (.410). Outfielder Johnny Ruettiger used his excellent speed to create chaos on the basepaths. Joining the club in late-April, the Illinois native finished third in the league in stolen bases (43). In addition to shattering his own career-high (his previous best was 16 in 2012), his total was the seventh-most  all-time by a Frederick player.

Nicky Delmonico missed time early on with a concussion, but led the team with 13 home runs (a feat he accomplished in just 61 games). The lefty-swinger would be traded to Milwaukee in late-July for Brewers relief pitcher Francisco Rodriguez, as the Orioles tried to bolster their bullpen for the stretch run. The tenure of Christian Walker also proved to be shorter than most Frederick fans would have preferred. Rewarded for an excellent all-around season, the  ex-South Carolina Gamecock was promoted to Double-A after 55 games with the Keys. During that time, Walker hit .288 with eight homers, 35 RBI and 17 doubles. For the year, he hit a combined .300 during stays at Delmarva, Frederick and Bowie. Travis Adair had the longest hitting streak of the year, picking up a base-hit in each of his last 18 games, while former independent league standout Zane Chavez was also a pleasant surprise. Joining the Baltimore organization after four years in non-affiliated baseball, the journeyman catcher hit .295 in 75 games and was named a mid-season all-star.

KEYS PITCHING

Although Frederick finished last in team-ERA (posting a 4.43 mark as a staff), several Keys arms enjoyed breakout seasons. Chief among them was Eduardo Rodriguez. Calm and collected, the  20-year-old went 6-4 with a 2.85 ERA in 14 starts en route to being named to the Carolina League All-Star Team and the Sirius/XM All-Star Futures Game. Unhittable in the month of May, Rodriguez went 5-0 with 2.23 ERA and hold opponents to a .208 bating average.

Tim Berry was another  southpaw who provided consistent results. In his second Carolina League tour, Berry led the club in wins (11) and starts (27) while working a team-high 152 innings. The 11 victories was also tied for most in the CL, and moved Berry into the top five all-time in Keys history. Out of the bullpen, Marcel Prado registered a 2.30 ERA in 21 games before a June 3 promotion to Double-A Bowie. Finishing with six saves in eight tries, Prado was brutal against right-handed hitters, holding them to a combined .207 batting average. Meanwhile, Zach Fowler handled lefties with aplomb, ending the year with a 2.57 ERA and a career-best 73.2 innings pitched.

THE OHLMAN EFFECT

The 2013 campaign was a special season for Michael Ohlman. Coming off a difficult 2012 where he missed time following a car accident and a drug violation, the Keys catcher rebounded with his best season as a professional. His .313 batting average made him the first Frederick batting champion since 2009 (when Robert Widlansky hit .340) while the catcher picked up additional accolades along the way. Named to the postseason all-star squad, he also earned Carolina League “Player of the Week” honors on two occasions. Consistent with his approach, Ohlman hit below .270 only one month out of the season and was an equal-opportunity destroyer at the dish. He punished lefties to a .364 clip, but did well against righties too, batting .302. For his efforts, he was added to the Orioles 40-man roster in November.

Ohlman likely won’t make this year’s edition of Guess Your Keys, but the 2014 club should have plenty of talent. We’ll have more details tommorrow, when the highly talented Chris Colletti makes his Unlocking the Keys Blog debut. I’m sure you’ll enjoy his insights.

Talk again soon and shake your keys!

Geoff

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